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Sweden confirms UK Tempest talks, ambivalent on Franco-German FCAS

21 May 2019
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Seen at its reveal at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow, the Tempest future fighter is being developed to enter service with the RAF in the 2030s. While Sweden has not yet publically declared its intent to join the programme, comments by the country's defence secretary suggest that it will do so. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

Sweden has engaged in high-level talks with the UK regarding future co-operation on the Tempest next-generation fighter programme, while any potential involvement in the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) appears to be off the table, according to comments made by the country's defence secretary on 21 May.

Speaking to reporters on 21 May, Peter Hultqvist, Swedish Minister for Defence, confirmed previously reported talks with the UK on including Swedish industry, specifically Saab, in the UK project to develop a manned combat aircraft for the 2030 timeframe. At the same time, he noted that he "has nothing more to say" on possible collaboration with France or Germany on the concurrent FCAS project.

Hultqvist's comments came a day after Saab CEO, Håkan Buskhe, said that "it is no secret that the Swedish government would like to work with the UK on the next-generation air combat system." In clarifying Sweden's potential contribution to Tempest, which is being developed by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, and Rolls-Royce, Buskhe reiterated his earlier declarations that Saab needs to be a partner rather than a consultant. "We cannot just drain our knowledge [on someone else's project], we need to learn something ourselves," he said.

Buskhe cited Saab's ongoing partnership with Boeing on the T-X trainer project for the US Air Force (USAF) as an example of the expertise and programme management skills that his company can bring to bear for Tempest. "The lead time for the T-X development to first flight was just three years. It is important to look at the lead time because this costs money. We already have projects looking at next-generation technologies, such as 'loyal wingmen' and future weapon systems," he said.

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